Chaitra Navratri - Durga

Chaitra Navratri 2021: the ‘other’ Navratri, and how to celebrate it

This is such a special time of the year – as the ancients knew – and therefore we have all these special days celebrated for thousands of years that are linked to the season, the stars and the psychologies of ourselves. Chaitra Navratri, which is a nine-day festival, beginning on the first day of the Hindu calendar, will begin on April 13, 2021, and end on April 22, 2021.

Day 1 – 13 April, 2021 – Shailaputri
Day 2 – 14 April, 2021 – Brahmacharini
Day 3 – 15 April, 2021 – Chandraghanta
Day 4 – 16 April, 2021 – Kushmanda
Day 5 – 17 April, 2021 – Skandamata
Day 6 – 18 April, 2021 – Katyayani
Day 7 – 19 April, 2021 – Kaalratri
Day 8 – 20 April, 2021 – Mahagauri
Day 9 – 21 April, 2021 – Siddhidhatri

The festival, which falls during the Indian spring season every year, is considered auspicious among various communities in the country. Navratris always begin with the ritual of Ghatasthapana or Kalash Sthapana. Devotees of the Goddess Supreme Durga, observe a fast for nine consecutive days and pray for health, forgiveness, and prosperity. The first day of Chaitra Navratri falls during the ‘Shukla Paksha’ of the moon i.e., the full moon phase. The rituals performed during the nine days in order to praise Goddess Durga, vary each day. It also marks the birthday of Lord Rama, which usually falls on the ninth day during the Navratri festivity, hence it is also known as Rama Navratri.

However, amid the second wave of COVID-19, we all must stay inside and maintain social distancing. With the state governments issuing various guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOPs) in each region, it is expected that one of the most-awaited festivals of the season will be celebrated once again in a low-key manner.
Staying inside homes during one of the major festivals can be gloomy for some people. But what the previous year has taught us is that it doesn’t mean one can’t beat the blues and celebrate the festivities amid the pandemic.
With the right company of friends and family, be it physical or virtual, or observing the week-long fast, your Navratri can be as good as the old times, while keeping all health protocols in mind to contain the spread of the deadly virus. Here are some tips to do so:

1. Learn about Chaitra Navratri by reading mythology and history books

While it’s common knowledge that according to scriptures and epic stories, the ninth day marks Lord Rama’s birthday, but what is unknown by many is that how did it come to be celebrated on the ninth day of Chaitra month, during the waxing moon phase.
You can use this isolated time to go on a little research mission and find out how this festival emerged. Ranging from academic journals to mythological accounts, you can find a vast variety of materials to unravel the story behind Lord Rama’s proverbial birth.

The first day of Navratri marks the first day of the Hindu calendar and it falls during the Shukla Paksha of the moon i.e, the full moon phase. The rituals performed during the nine days to praise Godess Durga vary every day. 

Different states recognise the festival with different names, in Maharashtra, it is known as Gudi Padwa while in Kashmir it is known as Navreh. It coincides with different harvest festivals across several states in India. Devotees embark on this nine-day-long celebration with Ghatasthapna or Kalash Sthapna.

The 9 avatars of Durga (navdurga) to be worshipped are:

Shailaputri or Pratipada, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kaalratri, Mahagauri, Siddhidhatri

2. Celebrate a virtual Rama Navami with friends and family

Visiting temples with families and friends amid the raging second wave of COVID-19 can prove to be a terrible idea. Thus, keeping distance from people is very much vital given the current situation in the country. But, thanks to social media, most things can be done virtually.
You can easily download any video recitation of Ram Katha and then use the Lord’s picture as an idol to mark the incarnation on Earth. It gets even better because you can also ask family members or friends to join you on a video call using any of the apps like Zoom or Google Meet. This will transform your isolation into a community experience like any other year.

3. Recite holy scriptures at home to maintain social distancing

During this auspicious festival, verses are recited by devotees from holy scriptures like Ramayana and Shrimad Bhagavatam. This can easily be done from the comfort of your one’s home while practicing social distancing.
Even though usually people visit temples to do so, but due to the second wave of COVID, you can recite verses on your balconies or terraces, which might even make you feel reconnected with nature and help you find that inner peace. After all, it’s in nature the God truly resides.

4. Observe the Chaitra Navratri fast with films and bhajans

Irrespective of whether you’re observing a strict fast (nirjala upvas) or a mild one, a day-long binge of Lord Rama’s tales will surely keep you occupied and enchanted. You can keep yourself occupied the entire day with films and short documentaries on Lord Rama and his conquests, that are easily available on various OTT platforms.
In some parts of the country, devotees also organise bhajans and kirtans for the entire nine-day period of Navratra. But since attending those during the COVID-19 outbreak is unsafe, you can use Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, or Apple Music to get into that Ram Navami groove.

5. Help the needy

As the saying goes, sharing is caring, and during the time of festivities, we should share our blessings with those who are not as fortunate as us. Nothing can beat the happiness and satisfaction that you will get by helping someone who is in need. There are many people around, who are struggling to make ends meet due to the COVID pandemic.

Help such people to celebrate Navratri, by donating food, clothes, or essential supplies to them. For Kanya puja, which falls on the last day, you can even opt to feed them by donating money to an NGO that is helping the poor or volunteer to teach online.

Items needed for Kalash Sthapna:

A clay pot to sow ‘Sapta Dhanya’ (seven kinds of grains)
Sapta DhanyaSteel or brass pot (Kalash)
Holy water or Gangajal
Red thread (Kautuka)
Coins for Kalash
5- leafed mango twig
Bowl of rice grains
A coconut
Flowers, doob grass, and betel nuts

Auspicious colour of the day on 9 days:

Day 1- April 13, 2021 (Tuesday) PratipadaColour  – Red
Day 2- April 14, 2021 (Wednesday) DwitiyaColour – Royal Blue
Day 3- April 15, 2021 (Thursday) TritiyaColour – Yellow
Day 4-April 16, 2021 (Friday) ChaturthiColor – Green
Day 5-April 17, 2021 (Saturday) PanchamiColour – Grey
Day 6-April 18, 2021 (Sunday) ShasthiColour  – Orange
Day 7-April 19, 2021 (Monday) SaptamiColour – White
Day 8-April 20, 2021 (Tuesday) AshtamiColour – Pink
Day 9-April 21, 2021 (Wednesday) Rama NavamiColour  – Sky Blue

*Sarva Mangala Mangalye, Shive Sarvartha Sadhika

Sharanye Trayambake Gauri, Narayani Namostute

*Sarva Swarupe Sarveshe, Sarva Shakti Samanvite

Bhaye Bhyastraahi No Devi, Durge Devi Namostute

*Etatte vadanam saumyam lochana trayabhushitam

Paatu nah sarvabhitibhyah kaatyaayani namostute

Jwala Karala Matyugram Sheshasura Sudanam

Trishulam Patu No Bhiter Bhadrakali Namostute

*Yaa Devi Sarva Bhooteshu Shakti Roopena Samsthitah

Namastasyai Namastasyai Namastasyai Namo Namaha

For ages, Navratri has always been the festival of togetherness and larger-than-life celebrations. However, keeping in mind the ongoing pandemic and the government restrictions in place, we need to rethink the way we celebrate it for our own safety and the safety of others.

A very happy Chaitra Navratri 2021!

Read: MahaNavami: Hindus celebrate Durga Puja with much fervour

Happy Hindi New Year, Puthandu and Vaisakhi! It’s New Year again – 12, 13 and 14 April, 2021

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